Cal Poly: Creating First Generation Wine Maker Matt Culhane

At only twenty years old, Matt Culhane has dedicated himself to a future in the wine industry, something he knew nothing about before coming to Cal Poly.

Through taking immersive classes, even an inexperienced city boy developed a love for the vineyard. A passion passed on for generations through family lineage.. and now newcomers, too!

How He Got Started in Wine

Growing up in Pasadena, a bustling city on the outskirts of Los Angeles, Matt had never considered a plant based life. His uncle, the lead marketer for a winery in South Africa, recommended he look into the program at Cal Poly.

Cal Poly’s Program

Cal Poly’s unique Wine and Viticulture Major is fitting for the schools prime location on the fertile central coast. Students can choose from three concentrations:

Viticulture – the growing of the grapes.

Enology – the science of wine making.

Wine Business – wine marketing, distribution, and sales.

Outlook on the California Wine Industry

The wine industry has exploded in California over the past decade. Paso Robles has gone from 35 wineries to over 180 just in their region.

Winery Internship in Italy

Matt plans on spending four months working at 400 year old Manincor Winery in Bolzano, Italy, which lies on the northern border next to Austria.

Bolzano’s wine scene is a major feature of the town. Located on a
main Italian wine route, tourists travel through multiple regions on tasting tours when visiting the country. Guests can explore the incredible architecture, take in views of the surrounding mountains, and enjoy learning about the historically and flavorfully rich wines.

Winery internships are crucial because they allow for hands on experience. It is beneficial to understand all aspects of the industry so that one can best grow, make, and sell a wine with a productive market in mind.

Wine Marketing Interest

Matt has chosen to pursue the Business concentration. He is most interested by the marketing aspect of the product, finding ways to tailor different drinks to appeal to different markets interesting.

Wines can be found for sale in all different forms. The industry plays with unique labels and packaging to maintain customer interest.

Potential Brewing

Through his exposure to the craft beer industry through his experience taking classes he has developed an interest in the brewing industry.

Certain schools, including UC Davis, offer brewing programs for students to pursue. However, Cal Poly only has talked about implementing a brewing extension.

Through his college experience Matt has developed an interest and passion for the alcohol making, something he would have never anticipated. He is unsure but excited to see where the many avenues of the industry lead him to… Marketing? Making? Wine? Beer? Spirits?   I guess the journey’s the fun part. Good luck!


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